A new article by the University of Pavia (UNIPV)has been launched in PLOS ONE: “Impact of COVID-19 lockdown on PM concentrations in an Italian Northern City: A year-by-year assessment”
In the last century, the increase in traffic, human activities and industrial production have led to a diffuse presence of air pollution, which causes an increase of risk of several health conditions such as respiratory diseases. In Europe, air pollution is a serious concern that affects several areas, one of the worst ones being northern Italy, and in particular the Po Valley, an area characterized by low air quality due to a combination of high population density, industrial activity, geographical factors and weather conditions. Public health authorities and local administrations are aware of this problem, and periodically intervene with temporary traffic limitations and other regulations, often insufficient to solve the problem. In February 2020, this area was the first in Europe to be severely hit by the SARS-CoV-2 virus causing theCOVID-19 disease, to which the Italian government reacted with the establishment of a drastic lockdown. This situation created the condition to study how significant is the impact of car traffic and industrial activity on the pollution in the area, as these factors were strongly reduced during the lockdown. Differently from some areas in the world, a drastic decrease in pollution measured in terms of particulate matter (PM) was not observed in the Po Valley during the lockdown, suggesting that several external factors can play a role in determining the severity of pollution. In this study, we report the case study of the city of Pavia, where data coming from 23 air quality sensors were analyzed to compare the levels measured during the lockdown with the ones coming from the same period in 2019. Our results show that, on a global scale, there was a statistically significant reduction in terms of PM levels taking into account meteorological variables that can influence pollution such as wind, temperature, humidity, rain and solar radiation. Differences can be noticed analyzing daily pollution trends too, as—compared to the study period in 2019—during the study period in 2020 pollution was higher in the morning and lower in the remaining hours.
Find the full article here!